Wednesday, January 07, 2009

New Year's Fresh Starts and Old Traditions

New Year's celebrations mark endings and new beginnings, so at our house we try to do something that connects us with old friends and treasured traditions as well as with something new.

Homeschool Memoirs!

This year we gathered some old friends for antelope roast (our family have traditionally been hunters), and tried a new more grown-up sort of fun with our mostly grown-up children: geo-caching. If you've never tried it, you'll want to give it some consideration. We thought it was a hoot!

There are many online sites that register geo-caches, which are weather-proof containers filled with a logbook and tiny unperishable treasures. Our favorite site is - but we are newbies at this. On the website, you'll find lots of caches registered as hidden in parks, greenbelts, even on golf courses and back-alleys. There are coded hints and a GPS location. There are also Google maps that show the approximate locations and the best place to make a trailhead.

Print out your intended cache information and head out with a GPS unit that will register something besides roads. When (and sometimes, if) you find the cache, sign the register, take a souvenir and leave something for the next treasure-hunter. Then come home an record your adventures on the geo-cache site, so that the guardian of the cache can guage the health and safety of his cache.

We chose a cache that is designed to be hunted at night with bright flashlights. Pinned to the trees at the side of the stream-side trail are "swarms of fireflies", reflective tacks that blend into the countryside in the daytime, but flash at night, to show the way from point to point to the final cache. We had a crisp, starlit night with a bit of a moon.

Though we didn't see the fireflies, we did hear some coyotes and flushed some sleeping doves and timid rabbits. We frolicked on a frozen pond and spelunked through a drainage tunnel under the trail. We laughed and sang and surprized our slower sleuths around the bends of the trail. And we finally discovered the cache - even without the sparkly guides!

It was about midnight when we returned home to hot tea, homemade fudge (another tradition) and really decadent desserts. We toasted God's goodness to us in the old year and offered up prayer for the new. Our friends spend the night and have a leisurely brunch on New Year's day, discussing at length what God has done for and around us, and laying before Him some of our hopes.

For the New Year: new resources for families with children approaching adulthood! See the Countdown to College Workshop (Denver) and the new Pre-Launch Challenge Denver - a contest to earn discounts to the workshop and a free personal college prep consultation with Kim.


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